NCAA
Associated Press 282d

Michigan State's Suzy Merchant coaches in first game since Jan. 14

Women's College Basketball, Michigan State Spartans

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State women's basketball coach Suzy Merchant's time away from the court helped her gain some valuable perspective.

"Everybody always says if you don't have your health, you don't have anything," said Merchant, the Michigan State women's basketball coach. "I think as coaches, we go to exhaustion. When I'm getting lectured from [Tom] Izzo about stuff like that, I'm like, 'Have you looked in the mirror lately? Have you seen yourself?'

"I just think, as coaches, sometimes we get on the treadmill and go a hundred miles an hour and forget about some of the small things."

Merchant returned from a medical leave of absence to coach Sunday's game against No. 3 Maryland, which the Spartans lost 89-72. It was her first game since she coached at Rutgers on Jan. 14. She said afterward that she has been feeling better over the past week.

Merchant fainted during a home game against Illinois on Jan. 1. She was later taken to a hospital for tests and kept overnight as a precaution. She did not coach on Jan. 4 at Purdue but returned for the next three games. She felt similar symptoms after the game at Rutgers and stayed in New Jersey for tests at a hospital.

Merchant said she had a heart monitor implanted and is on medication to keep her blood pressure up.

"It's like the size of a paper clip, and it's, like, in my skin. Every night, it downloads all my cardiac, EKG and all that stuff," she said. "I have a little button I'm supposed to push, like anytime I have any kind of arrhythmia, which I have sometimes. I think I had a few of them during the game, to be honest with you. A couple of those calls made my heart kind of increase its activity."

Merchant is in her 10th season at Michigan State. Maryland coach Brenda Frese said it was good to see her back on the sideline.

"We're close friends," Frese said. "It goes back to when we were both coaches in the MAC -- she was at Eastern Michigan, and I was at Ball State. We spent a lot of MAC meetings, Big Ten meetings together. ... Just so relieved and happy for her and for her family and her team for her to be back and doing what she loves."

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